The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) have completed a water quality study along major bay systems on the Mississippi coast following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that showed few chemicals of concern in bays and rivers where samples were taken.
The study looked for any serious short-term problems with water quality. EPA and MDEQ specifically targeted areas with the greatest potential for environmental harm because of the proximity to industrial or municipal areas.
Overall, the sampling data show that few water quality criteria were exceeded during the study. In areas where elevated contamination levels were found, EPA and MDEQ will continue to evaluate the need for additional site-specific studies to determine if there are any further adverse environmental impacts. Samples collected show bacteria concentrations at or below levels EPA considers suitable for swimming.
To determine if there may be any long-term effects of the hurricane, additional data will be collected and compiled with existing data. The study encompassed major bay systems on the Mississippi coast including Bangs Lake, Bayou Casotte, the Pascagoula and West Pascagoula River systems, the Back Bay of Biloxi, St. Louis Bay and the Pearl River.
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